REVIEW: September Favorites

Hello, friends! I don’t know about you, but September flew by faster than any month so far. Hard to believe that the holidays are fast approaching. You’ll be happy to hear that this post isn’t nearly as long as my Summer Favorites round-up! We didn’t try very many new products and my list of books and recipes is short and sweet. As always, if you have any current favorites, please leave me a comment below!


Kite Hill Yogurts >>

REVIEW: September Favorites

Kite Hill is a Whole Foods Exclusive brand @ $1.89/ea

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably read how excited I was when these hit our Whole Foods right around Labor Day. I’ve mentioned Kite Hill in a previous favorites post for their Soft Fresh Truffle Chive & Dill product. When I heard that they were coming out with a yogurt, I knew they were going to be amazing. I’ve purchased quite a few other dairy-free yogurts, but none blew me away. The texture was always off or they were overly sweet. When I pulled back the label of Kite Hill’s Blueberry yogurt, my eyes lit up. No curdled, chunky texture, just smooth, creamy deliciousness. I’ve tried all of the options (Plain, Vanilla, Blueberry, Strawberry and Peach) and loved every single one. I was never a fan of the fruit-filled or fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts, but I have to say, these were outstanding. They didn’t require a lot of stirring/mixing up and the fruit actually tasted fresh. If you ask Willow, she’ll tell you Vanilla is her favorite…but she’ll eat around the fruit in the others.

REVIEW: September Favorites

PASCHA Chocolate: 70% Cacao {Organic, Allergen Free}  >> Another Whole Foods find and well worth the price…although, my mom purchased it (on sale) and put it in my shopping bag when I wasn’t looking. It is often times difficult to find chocolate that doesn’t contain soy lecithin, so I’m always excited when I find a brand that is soy-free. This chocolate is incredibly smooth and rich, but not intense like a lot of dark chocolate (I actually love the really intense flavors). What attracted me most to this company was how they use very few ingredients and all of it fair trade and organic. Their chocolate is also made in a dedicated allergen free facility, which is huge. Our Whole Foods carries two of their full size chocolate bars (as seen in the photo below) and their mini bars. On their website, I noticed that they offer several other options, such as one with maca, lucuma or Arabica coffee. The 70% cacao bar is Willow approved, but I’m pretty sure she’d love them all.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Yumbutter Organic Superfood Peanut Butter >> We’ve tried and loved their sunflower seed butter (mentioned in a favorites post a good bit back) and we finally got around to trying their peanut butter this month. SO good. Willow and I packed it with us to take on a recent rockhounding adventure and it hit the spot with Le Pain des fleurs Organic Buckwheat Crispbread.

Rockhounding treasures! LOTS of agates, Jasper and petrified wood.

Books I Read and Enjoyed:

I’ve read quite a few books over the last month or so, but here are the ones that stood out:

Cold Black Earth by Sam Reaves >> This was another Kindle First (free download) for me and it was a well written murder mystery. I only get to read after Willow is asleep and I found myself staying up until almost 1:00 AM because it was almost impossible to put down. I will admit, the book starts off slow, but stick with it…I promise it’s REALLY good. The author did a fantastic job pulling you in and there were times where my heart was racing and I was holding my breath. It takes place in a small town in Illinois (which is partly why I chose it) and is about a woman who comes back home after leaving the combat zone and a painful divorce in hopes to pick up the pieces. While back home, an inmate escapes from a local prison and murders begin. Just when I thought I had figured out who the killer was, I had to think again!

Good Night Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Bedtime Story by Mariam Gates >> Every so often, we take Willow to Barnes & Noble to browse and sit on the floor to read a few books. We stumbled upon this sweet book and had to get it. She was so excited to add this into our nightly routine – we do each pose as a family before cuddling up in bed to read some books. The illustrations are beautiful and the author does a wonderful job of inducing relaxation. The poses are simple and we find Willow doing them throughout the day on her own. Such a perfect way to end the day.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) by Eline Snel >> My mom bought this book for us a good bit ago, but I just finished it last month. While the book is geared towards an older age group (5-12), I found it to be incredibly useful – I recommend it to every parent to read and reread. It’s a book to help with anxiety, stress and to help with concentration. It has definitely helped me to be more mindful over the last month. I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter 2 (Parenting with Greater Mindfulness):

Presence enables you to be simply here – in contact with this moment. With these feelings and thoughts – open, curious, generous, and without an immediate opinion. Present with that small hand in yours. Present with the temper tantrum. Present with the daily school run. Present in all those moments of happiness, misfortune, routine, and everything in between. The more present you are, the less you miss. This is never a question of good or bad. Being fully present is enough.

This book goes hand in hand with my recent post – Unplug to Reconnect. It’s a gentle reminder to be present in this life – to become more focused and patient. I look forward to reading this again with Willow in a year or two. She wanted to read it now, but when she saw that it wasn’t quite a picture book like she’s used to, she lost interest. The book comes with a CD of guided exercises that I have not listened to yet.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson >> I am still reading this one, but I love it so far. I have my dear friend, Julie, to thank for the recommendation. It’s a young adult book that moves fast and keeps you on the edge of your seat. {Steelheart is book one in a series} The story takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic city (Chicago) where we learn about Epics (people with extraordinary powers – evil) and Reckoners (ordinary people who have made it their mission to learn about the Epics’ individual weaknesses and assassinate them). The main character, David, has made it his life’s mission to eliminate Steelheart.

What I’m watching:

I thought I’d start a section in these ‘Favorites’ posts where I share any movies, shows, documentaries that I’ve watched during the month. We don’t have TV service, not even basic cable, so Netflix and Amazon Prime are our sources of entertainment.

True Detective Season 1 >> Josh and I watched this together via DVDs (eight episodes). It is a HBO series and season one stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey…enough said. Ok, I’m kidding, but seriously, you can’t really beat that pair. With each movie/show that I’ve seen with either one of those actors, I am blown away by their talent. This show wasn’t any different – they become the characters – it doesn’t feel like acting. True Detective is a crime drama about two detectives, “Rust” and “Marty,” and a 17-year manhunt. It’s dark, at times very heavy, but nothing short of amazing. We got sucked into the series before the first episode was even over.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Other shows I’ve been watching on occasion via Netflix & Amazon Prime:

  • Bones season 10
  • Covert Affairs
  • Justified

Recipes we tried and loved:

We made a lot of repeat recipes last month, along with creating our own, but here are the few we fell in love with:

Plant Strong Vegan:

Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings >> Words don’t even begin to describe how amazing this recipe is. The first time we made this, I forgot to grab the sweet chili sauce while grocery shopping, so I had to improvise. I used Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and a little avocado oil. Willow LOVED them! Broccoli is my absolute favorite veggie, so finding new ways to cook it makes me happy. And when your picky toddler approves, even better. No joke, Willow requests this all the time. For example, just today she said to me, “Mom, can Dad bring some broccoli home tomorrow so we can have sticky broccoli?” That’s what she calls it – “sticky broccoli” ❤ We’ve made this several times – using teriyaki sauce and the way Margaret wrote the recipe (using Sriracha and sweet chili sauce)….the spicier recipe isn’t Willow friendly, so we make her a separate batch using a mild sauce of some sort. We made homemade pizza last week and chopped up the wings for a topping, along with some homemade white sauce. I love these way more than cauliflower wings – the texture is incredible and her method is genius. The one thing we learned to do is to brush a little oil on the parchment paper before putting the broccoli on there – makes for easier flipping.

REVIEW: September Favorites
Broccoli wings using Coconut Aminos Teriyaki sauce and avocado oil. Served with organic basmati rice.
REVIEW: September Favorites
Homemade pizza crust using the King Arthur gluten-free pizza crust recipe (leaving out buttermilk powder), topped with homemade white sauce and Plant Strong Vegan’s Sriracha Sweet Chili Wings. Ahhhhmazing!

REVIEW: September Favorites

Creamy Hemp Pesto Alfredo Fettuccine with Oil-Free Roasted Garlic >> This was a three-part recipe and each one fantastic. Just more evidence that hemp seeds are truly magical. I also love that Margaret shared her method for roasting garlic that didn’t require oil OR the use of aluminum foil. The creamy Alfredo sauce didn’t use the typical cashews as a base, which was a nice change…and less expensive to make. I loved how well the pesto paired with the Alfredo – it provided a big pop of flavor and I was pleasantly surprised when Willow approved of this meal. We’ll definitely be adding this recipe into our pasta night rotation!

The Vegan 8:

Fudgy Coconut Butter Brownies >> I knew these were going to be amazing before I even made them. Brandi is incredibly talented at creating dessert recipes that are oil-free. While I no longer follow a strict oil-free “diet” I do like to watch my consumption. If you make these, definitely go the extra step and make your own coconut butter…she provides instruction on how to do that if you’ve never made your own before. The brownies are insanely rich and fudgy – If you love chocolate like we do, you will love these…I promise.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole (Oh She Glows} >> My dear friend, Diana, has raved about this recipe a few times and we FINALLY made it and loved it. Insanely easy to make and a short ingredient list. Sadly, Willow did not try this as she likes things to be separated…black beans on their own, avocado alone, and “noodles” in either cheeze sauce or tomato sauce…so this was far from being a Willow meal. That’s ok, that just meant more for Josh and me! Don’t worry, she didn’t starve, we made sure to prepare a pasta dish for her.

REVIEW: September Favorites

Thanks for stopping by!